Friday Reads: Chapter and Curse

With the cooler weather (and tonight’s freeze warning!), it seems like the sort of morning for another cozy mystery.

Chapter and Curse, by Elizabeth Penney, is the first book in the Cambridge Bookshop series. The third book will be published later this month. Lovely settings, interesting characters, good mysteries, plenty of literary references.

Molly Kimball and her mother, Nina, desperately could use a change in their lives. One day, they receive a letter from Nina’s Aunt Violet asking for help with the family’s struggling 400-year old bookshop in Cambridge, England. Molly (a part-time librarian) jumps at the chance to leave Vermont and help revitalize the family business, while Nina looks forward to reconnecting with family.

They arrive to find the “Thomas Marlowe Manuscripts and Folios” bookshop in rougher shape than expected, especially financially. With loans rapidly coming due, a cousin is threatening to sell the bookshop to a big-box store (which also threatens the other small shops along the same street). Molly decides that the bookshop will host a poetry reading, in coordination with the village’s book festival, to bring in new customers and raise some money.

The event appears to be a huge success until Molly finds one of the guests murdered (and evidence pointing directly towards her great-aunt). Was this driven by the bookshop’s recent money troubles? Blackmail of some kind? Or was it connected to the evening’s famous poet, who happens to be one of Violet’s oldest friends? What really happened with the rest of their friend group over fifty years ago? What other secrets does this charming little street hold?

Determined to clear her great-aunt’s name, Molly tackles these questions with the help of new friends, a possible romantic interest, a few odd family members, and a cat named Puck.

  1. Penney, Elizabeth. Chapter and Curse. Sept. 28, 2021. St. Martin’s Paperbacks.
  2. Penney, Elizabeth. A Treacherous Tale. August 23, 2022. St. Martin’s Paperbacks.
  3. Penney, Elizabeth. The Fatal Folio. October 24, 2023. St. Martin’s Paperbacks.
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